In Episode 259 New York Times bestselling author Martha Hall Kelly joins me to talk about her new novel Lilac Girls, how she became entranced with the story of Caroline Ferriday, the intense research that went into uncovering Caroline’s story, doing research in Europe getting inside the head of the other main characters, writing characters that are three dimensional and fully formed, writing historical fiction, writing prequels, and much more.
Lilac Girls: A Novel
Based on a true story of a New York socialite who championed a group of concentration camp survivors known as the Rabbits, this acclaimed debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and terrible secrets that were hidden for decades.
Caroline Ferriday is a former Broadway actress and liaison to the French consulate whose life is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, sinks deeper into her role as a courier for the underground resistance movement. In Germany, Herta Oberheuser, a young doctor, answers an ad for a government medical position—only to find herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.
The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents, as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.
I’m an author and native New Englander, still pinching myself since my debut novel Lilac Girls, became a New York Times bestseller the week it was published in April 2016. The novel is historical fiction, based on the true story of 72 Polish women who were imprisoned and experimented on at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and how Caroline Ferriday, an American philanthropist and former actress brought them to the U.S. for rehabilitation and the trip of a lifetime. I have been researching the story for over ten years and am excited beyond belief to finally share it with the world.
And coming soon, look for two prequels to Lilac Girls. The first, Gin Lane, takes place in WWI and tells the story of Caroline’s mother Eliza’s fight to help Russian refugees displaced by the revolution there. (If you want a sneak peek, I’ve been pinning hints on Gin Lane’s progress on my Pinterest page as I write...https://www.pinterest.com/marthahallkelly/gin-lane/)
The second prequel takes place during The Civil War and tells the story of Caroline’s ancestors, the incredibly philanthropic Woolsey women, staunch abolitionists who tended to wounded soldiers on the Gettysburg battlefield.
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